See What is Possible!

Buyu’s story is one that I wish every young person in the developed world could hear.  If you have not heard her story go to “No Longer Stateless” from Feb. 2016 in this blog.

51193519_2340470666169381_6886818538300899328_n.jpg

Assuming that you know her background now, let me tell you what has just happened.  She has successfully finished all of the courses required to get her B.A. in nursing!  On Jan. 26th she graduated from Nation University in Lampang with about 200+ other students.  Buyu is our 5th college graduate student since the Seed of Hope was started in 2015. But she is our first student to graduate with a B.A. degree!  What makes this such an epic story is that most marginalized and stateless youth around the world, like many Akha people, believe the lie that they are not capable of reaching higher goals.  Many believe the lie that there isn’t hope. Buyu had every excuse to wallow in poverty, doubt and bad circumstances to excuse a life of compromise and hopelessness. But she stayed on the course in spite of all this to accomplish a B.A.  We are so thankful for the donors who have contributed to the Living Hope Trust that empowers students who want to go on and receive higher education. Not only has Buyu graduated with a B.A. but she also has a job and is working full time now at a dentist office!  

Buyu’s family arrived at the graduation ceremony in their traditional Akha tribal clothing.

51330689_299256030733231_8768068506630488064_n.jpg

 This was a bold move as there is a history of ethnic tribal peoples being openly discriminated against.  For the last century and more they have been treated as unwanted and lowly in the more educated and developed Thai society.  The presence of Buyu’s family turned the heads of all parents, siblings and other guests attending the ceremony as I’m sure, she was among few ethnic minority graduating there.  This day was a landmark, a moment in the history of Seed of Hope that should never be forgotten.

50952697_2260277437317250_7189422043983511552_n

Many young students at Seed of Hope will now have the opportunity to see a real-life example of someone who reached higher and achieved.  

To learn how to donate to the Living Hope Education Fund go to our website at:

www.seedofhopethailand.org

A New Year

Looking back so much has happened and changed at the Seed of Hope
project in 2018.  We continue to be in in awe of how God has nurtured
the dorm to grow.  In spite of the trials, and spiritual battles that
waged war against us, we are entering the new year with this
confidence:  What God has begun in the lives of the 33 Seed of Hope
students and 10 staff (including us), he will complete in His good
time (Philippians 1:6).

Hiring new dorm parents was a big leap of faith because it didn’t look
like the budget would support this decision.  Here we are, almost a
year later and we are so glad we moved forward in faith in this
decision.  Our objective is to invest in the spiritual, physical,
social and emotional lives of our students between their school
activities.  Paeng and Plewfire, our new dorm parents, have been a
God-send.  Overseeing 33 students with such a spread of ages can be
very chaotic and challenging.  Having two more responsible parents on
the team has helped reduce the load on Lawpa and Bairak.
Hiring an intern also was a great blessing to our team.  Darika took
some of the responsibilities for leading devotions and activities.

We are so thankful for the provision through generous partners to
begin construction on a well, an engineered septic system and a
security wall.  Right after the new year rang in, a well was drilled
and water was struck at 250 ft.  It turned out to be an artesian well.
What a great problem to have that we need to cap a well because it is
gushing with water!

 

Unfortunately we had to deal with a drug related tragedy that caused the
death of three people in our community.  This tragedy has directly
affected two of our students who were son and grand daughter to two of
the deceased.

Christmas was special this year with our usual Christmas party.
Ryan’s cousin and family joined us from Texas.

img_5666

Sadly, Ryan’s dad’s cancer advanced, resulting in hospice and Ryan
had to fly back to Colorado before the new year.  Rebecca and Caleb
were thankful to have the presence of Ryan’s cousin and family in
Thailand during this trial.

img_6010

We wish we could give every one of our partners a chance to personally
meet the Seed of Hope students and staff to see directly the impact
YOU are having on their lives when you pray for and support the Seed
of Hope project. Thank you for making 2018 a special one and for
helping so many students receive an education!  May you have a special
2019 and see God in new and wonderful ways!

Dorm Parents

The Seed of Hope Dorm is a beehive of activity these days.  Kids coming and going to school, playing, working on school projects, practicing music, cooking, cleaning and getting to know their new “ma” and “pa”.

As the dorm grows and develops, we, along with all the staff, have felt the strain of helping raise 35 kids plus our own.  Back in April we were able to add two more dorm parents here at the dorm!  What a blessing they are to the team, adding much energy and love in abundance, and needed relief for the team.

36998519_2024024881243202_4217062499125559296_n

Their names are Paeng and Plewfire and they have a daughter who just turned two (who is completely adorable!).  Our family met Paeng the first week we arrived in Thailand back in 2012.  It wasn’t long after we met her that she became “sister” to us and “auntie” to our boys!  What a sweet and tender heart she has and an overflowing love for God.

For years she shared how she wanted to work in some sort of ministry and how she especially loved working with young kids.  In 2015 when the dream of starting a dorm began to happen she kept telling us that if we ever needed a dorm mom she would love to join the team.  We had to move slowly because of finances and wanted to move in God’s timing.  As of this year we finally felt like we could hire her and her husband to come on staff.  As always, the Lord’s timing is perfect.  She and her husband were ready and just enough funds were trickling in in order to pay them both a full time salary.

We did need to build them a home and so with the funds, so many of you from the US gave, we were able to build them a small but adequate home on the SOH property.

Paeng and Plewfire have fit right in and the kids look up to them and call them “Ma” and “Pa” already.  The students absolutely adore their daughter Grace and someone is always wanting to hold her. Paeng and Plewfire are doing such a fine job getting to know the children and are building close relationships with them.   They cook, lead devotions, go to parent teacher conferences for them, lead worship, teach them daily tasks, tuck them in at night, laugh with them and wipe away the tears when they flow. Both are a common occurrence.

We also have had the joy of a SOH graduate from three years ago returning to do an internship at the dorm for college credit!  Da has been a huge blessing and has really helped take part of the load in many areas during the transition with Paeng and Plewfire.

41626159_2021962377867425_5579631313184358400_n

There is no way we could have gotten the infrastructure or staff of the Seed of Hope this far without the help of all of you out there who have made sacrifices to make this possible!  We all say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  You are helping change the lives of so many kids and their families.

There are still so many needs.  Even though the dorm is located in a rural area, there are security concerns arising with reports of persons sneaking around the property at night. Building a security wall is high priority now.  This will cost $4,000 to do it right. The dorm needs a new laptop for many administrative tasks as the old one just died. This will be around $700.  Water continues to be an issue, shutting off at unpredictable times.  A drilled well will be on the horizon after the security wall is finished.  The estimate for this will be around $5,000.  If you feel led to help financially go to our website for easy tax free giving!  www.seedofhopethailand.org.  Thank You for your continued prayers.

 

Graduation 2018

March is graduation month and this year we had one senior graduate, two 9th graders and three 6th graders.  We have mentioned before that students are not always expected to continue education after 9th grade.  In marginalized minority groups, students are actually expected to quit and come home to help the family because grade 10-12 is not covered by the government, causing more financial hardship on the family in the short-view.   A lot of kids make 9th grade, and sometimes 6th grade, their last year and then either go help their parents on the farm or find a job to help the family financially.

We are thrilled that our graduating senior, Panyapawn, will be continuing on at a local university with the help of Seed of Hope scholarship funds.  She would like to study to become a teacher!  Our two 9th graders and three 6th graders will also be continuing on here at the dorm to finish through the 12th grade.

Year End Impact 2017- SOH

One of the biggest yet rarely publicized stories in 2017 was the Rohingya genocide now taking place in Myanmar (Burma), just a few hundred miles North of where we live in Thailand.  Media in the most powerful countries seem to be more interested in political agendas by slandering opponents than exposing crimes against humanity. Sadly, this is not a new story in this war-torn, broken country.  Burma has been in an ongoing state of civil war for 60 years now.  The story of the Rohingya is another chapter in a long history of oppressing, exploiting and killing ethnic minority groups like the Karen, Shan, Lahu, Lisu, Akha and more.

The Seed of Hope story begins in Burma.  Any Akha person we talk to over the age of 40 still considers Burma their “mother country”, where part of their heart remains.  The parents and grandparents of the Seed of Hope students have a common story.  Their families were forced out of Burma by oppression and danger from Burmese military and drug lords.  Women were murdered for the silver on their head dresses and men were taken at gunpoint to be slaves for the Burmese military.

When they fled into Thailand, they were not welcomed.  They couldn’t speak the language and didn’t understand Thai customs.  As a way of survival, the Akha pushed through some of the most rugged jungles and mountainsides to perch their villages high on mountains where they would be left alone.  It was a place where they could farm in peace and carve out a meager living.  They found a more peaceful life in the mountains but were completely isolated from Thai society and education.

The Seed of Hope dorm is now being established to board students from over 8 mountain villages where they can access education, citizenship and greater community.  Please watch our video to learn about the progress of the Seed of Hope dorm property and how you can help be a part of this story!

Video link:  https://youtu.be/5xsuHmlc6jc

As we look forward to 2018, the goal of finishing all of the infrastructure of the property is so close!  So as you consider your year-end tax deductible giving, here is the list that we are forecasting as the most critical to the least critical in descending order for 2018:

House for additional dorm parents– $6,000

Salary for 2 additional dorm parents $7,272/ 1 year = ($3,636 each) ($303 monthly)

Engineered Septic system for all 5 bathrooms on property $7,000

Drilled well with pump, raised storage tank and filter tank– $6,000

Education Center (including library) – $15,000

Chicken house for 500 chickens – $1,000

Rice husker/machine $500

Solar panels for each building to reduce electricity cost– $4,000

Drop ceiling in dining room– $800

Metal roof over meeting hall – $1,000

Total to completion= $48,572

 

Your tax deductible donation can be sent securely online at:

https://www.seedofhopethailand.org/donate  Or

https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/rx7t04knMC6hQ-oH345_NA

Or checks can be sent to:

Cord Ministries International

P.O. Box 102

Wheaton, IL 60187-0102

“Seed of Hope” in memo line

 Thank you to all who have generously been a part of this work in Thailand!  A big Thank You to Salida Grace Church, OBJ Church and the Rosenberg family for sending teams to help with building the girl’s dorm, meeting hall and the store!

Medical Team in Chiang Mai

We have a medical team here now from our hometown of Salida, Colorado and we are so thrilled that they made the sacrifice to come all the way over here.  The team consists of one Dr. and his wife, three nurses, our hometown pastor and his son and a couple from our church, who are also good friends of ours.

Medical Team 17

Yesterday the team spent the day at the dorm, first giving the kids general check-ups and then any members of the surrounding community who wanted to come.  They held two clinics yesterday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  In the morning clinic alone they saw over 100 people!

IMG_7376

IMG_7373

IMG_7371

Between the two clinics there was a lunch provided at the dorm.  The team paid for the food to feed everyone and paid some local help to prepare the food.  In the evening Pastor Don shared about Jesus, who He is and what He has done for us.

Today the team heads to the mountains and will do 4 days of clinics in two different villages.  At the checkups they give out medications such as antibiotics, ointments, worms meds and vitamins.  Service and medication is all free to the people.

IMG_7370

 

Summer came and went

Wow, I decided to look at our blog and realized that I had not written for 5 months!  Where has the time gone?  To be honest most of our correspondence has been via email newsletters so because of that I lost track of the blog.

Since March our oldest son has graduated from high school, we had a team from Crested Butte, CO. come out and help at the dorm, one of our graduating students started college (making a total of 6 of our students attending college!) and our family went to AK.  Both our boys really wanted to work somewhere to earn some money (they cannot do that here).  They were both able to get a job at the cannery in AK.  Our youngest is now back at his studies in Thailand and our oldest is staying in Colorado and will be taking a gap year.

The kids at the dorm are all doing well.  Building projects are getting finished and good things are happening.  We have fish, frogs, new pigs and even our own rice paddy!

Over the summer, via Facebook and email,  we had asked if anyone could donate to the dorm for three computers and a new truck topper as the old one had many leaks.  So many generous people gave and we were able to get all the items needed!  THANK YOU!

Here are some recent pictures of what has been happening at the dorm.  Enjoy.

 

372

The old truck topper

IMG_6557

Our new truck topper…thank you to donors!

IMG_6556

Inside the truck.

 

IMG_6471

The computer lab with our new computers.

IMG_4174

A family that was moving back to the states donated a LARGE bag of legos to the dorm. Thank you, Adams family! The kids LOVE them!!!

bike brigade 2

Thank you to the Gillis family of Absolute Bikes in Salida, Colorado for donating bikes to the dorm. What a gift!!!

Assembling bikes 2

The team from Crested Butte brought the donated bikes over and assembled them.

A New School Year Ahead

Not long after the Thai school term ended and we had our graduation celebration we accepted new applications for the dorm.  Parents from far off villages came in to fill out the applications.  We had 20+ students apply for the first time, and 19 students that are returning.  We are losing five prior students due to graduation or changing family circumstances.

As much as we would LOVE to accept all the applicants, our resources are still limited and we are afraid we wouldn’t be doing the kids or the staff a favor if we accepted them all.  We want to limit the number of students to around 30 in hopes that with less students, we will be able to give more time and care to each one, resulting in lasting impact.

IMG_2370

Discussing applications.

How do you choose?  Scouring the questions they answered and the information that was given, leaders gave opinions, we prayed and “slept on it”overnight. We whittled the list down.  This next school season, which starts in May,  we will have 33 students!   We are excited about the new arrivals and sad about those who are leaving.

Thank you for your part in the dorm.  All of you who have given so generously have made it possible for these Akha kids, who come from remote villages, to receive an education that will have direct impact for decades to come!

Graduation 2017 @ SOH

This year we had one graduating senior.  She is a model student and a great leader-by-example at the dorm.  We are so happy for her yet so sad she will be leaving the dorm.  We have known her since the first month we settled in Thailand (2012) and she has truly become a daughter to us.  She is planning on continuing her education and then, to our great joy, coming back to the SOH to join us as a staff member.  This young lady has so much potential and makes us extremely proud.IMG_2827

Along with our graduating senior we had 5 graduating from the 6th grade and 2 from the ninth grade.  I know we have shared before but we will share again, in Thailand many students stop going to school after these grades so that they can go back home and help make an income for the family.  School also gets more costly after these grades.  So for our students to continue on and graduate from the 12th grade is a great accomplishment.

 

Last Saturday night we celebrated all of our graduates at the dorm.  Ryan shared some wisdom, Lawpa and Bairak had a time of sharing, some of the kids shared songs and each graduate was able to give a thank you message.

IMG_3051

If you would like to give toward the continuing education of these students go to: http://www.seedofhopethailand.org     Thank you!!!

Getting Caught Up at Seed of Hope

As we are beginning to find our routine after moving back to Thailand, it is time to get family and friends caught up on what is happening at Seed of Hope, Thailand.

We were so excited to see the kids and catch up on their lives.  They have all grown in so many ways.  The land is looking great!  Girl’s dorm finished, boy’s dorm just needs tile, the frog and fish pond are ready for occupants, pigs have babies, chickens are laying eggs, corn was just harvested for pig food and garden crops are growing.

The dorm had a wonderful Christmas celebration with around 400 people showing up consisting of family, friends and neighbors in the community. Our friend Bob put together a video of the celebration (posted below).  There was a bit of confusion with pictures and I feel bad that not all the Grace Church sponsors were in the pictures.  I apologize for that.  Thank you for giving to make their Christmas so special!  The extra funds have gone into materials for homemade welded bunk beds and Lawpa has been busy making those!

Our boys purchased motorbikes with the money they made over the six months in the states.  They have been driving to and from school everyday.  Prayers appreciated for their safety!

We have many visitors and short term mission teams over the next few months that we will be working with in some capacity.  We will be excited to tell you about these moments as they happen.  We are also quite busy with all the school activities for the boys and getting ready for Tyler to graduate in four short months.

Thank you again for the part you have had in changing the lives of so many hill tribe youth of Thailand.  Enjoy the pictures & video below: